Amend the 2023 draft Tree Protection Ordinance

No to "Guaranteed 85% hardscape"!

Trees and the urban forest comprise vital green infrastructure needed to keep our city livable and healthy.

With middle-housing zoning updates, neighborhood residential (34% tree canopy) will change to multi-family (23% tree canopy) and Seattle tree canopy will plummet unless strong and effective efforts are made to preserve trees.

In a March 7th press conference, Mayor Bruce Harrell issued new draft legislation and an Executive Order with the stated goal to reverse recent declines in canopy coverage, improve equity in tree planting, and address climate and affordability issues.

While Mayor Harrell’s draft ordinance has some steps forward, it does have some major flaws that must be addressed via the amendment process. (strengths and proposed amendments of the draft ordinance here)

Arguably, the “85% lot development area” provision will have the most negative impact on tree canopy, relegating large and medium trees to parks only. If the current middle housing legislation passes in Olympia, almost all of Seattle would be affected by this change, with a significant loss of tree canopy city wide.

Portland adopted middle-housing 2 years ago, and recently passed additional legislation to help mitigate the tree loss they were experiencing. Updates to Portland 11/50/50 code requires 20% lot allowance for “tree preservation and planting areas” in multifamily areas and 40% tree lot allowance on lots with 1-4 units in the neighborhood residential.

We urge the support of the 23 proposed amendments listed here, with an strong emphasis on the top two: 1) drop the guaranteed 85% lot development, and 2) adopt a 20% – 40% tree planning zone similar to Portland.

Urge the city council to adopt the needed amendments by sending an email today.